Sunday, March 12, 2017

Birds, like plants, are weird


This is a weird bird. More precisely, it is an bilateral gynandromorph, which essentially says that somehow, cells on one side said "let's be male" and those on the other side said "let's be female." This leads to a ZW/WW chimera that appears female on the ZW side, and male on the ZZ side. Furthermore, the "ova-testes" contain a mix of ZZ and ZW cells. Interestingly, this only occurs on the longitude of the bird, likely because as an embryo forms, cells divide and their daughters tend to be on the same side as they were, leading to half of the cells arising from one of the first two cells. If there is an error in that first division, that can be seen as one half of the mature organism having the error phenotype.
So what kind of life did weird bird live? Well, it lived in Rock Island, IL and ate out of this guy's bird feeder. It was never observed to have a mate or singing and was generally ignored by the other birds. Then the guy whose bird feeder it was never saw it again one day. Which, in my opinion, is a little sad. :(

More reading!
bilateral symmetry: https://arxiv.org/abs/1207.3289
sex determination of somatic cells in chickens: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7286/full/nature08852.html
the life of weird bird: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1676/14-025.1

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